Technology

WordPress.com owner Automattic acquires multiservice messaging app Beeper for $125M

Image credits: Beep

Automattic, owner of WordPress.com, is acquiring Beeper, the company behind the iMessage-on-Android solution referenced by the Justice Department in its antitrust lawsuit against Apple. The deal, worth $125 million according to sources familiar with the matter, is Automattic’s second acquisition of a cross-platform messaging solution following its purchase of Texts.com last October.

The acquisition made Texts.com founder Kishan Bagaria Automattic the group’s new head of messaging, a role that will now be filled by Beeper founder Eric Migicovsky, former founder of the Pebble smartwatch and partner at Y Combinator.

Contacted for comment, Automattic said it has begun the process of onboarding the Beeper team and is “excited about the progress” so far, but could not yet say more about its organizational updates or what what would be Bagaria’s new title. However, we’re told he’s also staying to work on Beeper.

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Image credits: Beep

The teams from Beeper and Texts.com, made up of 25 and 15 people respectively, will come together to take the most of each company’s products and merge them into a single platform, according to Migicovsky.

“(Texts.com) has created an amazing, more desktop-centric, iOS-centric app,” he said. “So we’re going to integrate the best parts of those into our app. But going forward, the Beeper brand will apply to all of Automattic’s messaging efforts,” he said, adding, “Kishan…I’ve known him for years now – there’s not many other people around the world who do what we do. do – and it was great to be able to combine forces with them.

The deal, concluded on April 1, represents a big bet on Automattic’s part: that the future of messaging is open source and works across all services, instead of being tied to proprietary platforms, like WhatsApp from Meta or iMessage from Apple. In fact, Migicovsky says, the final plan after moving people to the cross-platform Beeper app to manage their messages is to move them to Beeper’s own chat protocol — an open source protocol called Matrix — under the hood.

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Image credits: Beep

Automattic previously made a $4.6 million strategic investment in Element (formerly New Vector), another Matrix-based company, and contributes annually to Matrix.org.

Matrix, a sort of “spiritual successor” to XMPP, as Migicovsky describes it, offers an open source, end-to-end encrypted client and server communication system where servers can federate with each other, similar to open source alternative Twitter/X. Mastodon. However, instead of focusing on social media, like Mastodon, it focuses on messaging.

Migicovsky said the acquisition happened because Beeper cost quite a bit of money to operate and it was time to either raise more money or find a buyer. To date, Beeper had raised $16 million in outside funding, including an $8 million Series A from Initialized. Other investors include YC, Samsung Next and Liquid2 Ventures, as well as angels Garry Tan, Kevin Mahaffey and Niv Dror, as well as SV Angel Group.

“I’ve known Matt (Mullenweg, founder and CEO of Automattic) for years now,” Migicovsky said, adding that the WordPress.com founder has shown his commitment to open source technology, like Beeper, where about half of its product is already open source. “We were looking for a partner capable of supporting us financially. One of the reasons no one else is making this type of app is that it costs surprisingly a lot of money to make a damn good chat app,” Migicovsky noted.

As for Beeper products, the company has now informed the DOJ of what happened when Apple blocked its new app, Beeper Mini, which aimed to bring iMessage to Android. This solution is no longer updated due to Apple’s actions.

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Image credits: Beep

Beeper on Android is launched to everyone

The company is instead releasing an updated version of its main app, Beeper, on Android. Unlike Beeper Mini, which focuses only on iMessage, the main app connects to 14 services, including Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Instagram DM, LinkedIn, Twitter/X, Discord, Google Messages and others. Android is the largest user platform, as 70% of them use Google’s smartphone operating system.

In this rewritten version of Beeper, the company begins rolling out fully end-to-end encrypted messages on Signal. This will soon be followed by WhatsApp, Messenger and Google Messages.

Due to Apple’s restrictions, iMessage only works if you have an iPhone in the mix, Migicovsky says, and won’t be a priority for Beeper, given the complications encountered with Apple’s discontinuation of Beeper Mini. However, Beeper hopes regulation could change things, pointing to the DOJ lawsuit and FCC investigation. Meanwhile, Beeper supports RCS, which fixes iMessage to Android issues such as low-resolution images and videos, lack of typing indicators, and encryption.

With the beta launch, the new app includes a new icon, updated design, instant chat opens and sends, the ability to add and edit chat networks directly on Android (no desktop app is necessary), local caching of all chats on the device. and search for complete messages.

The 10,000 Android beta testers already on Beeper will have to download the new app manually from Google Play – it will not be automatically updated.

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Image credits: Beep

Additionally, the approximately 466,000 people on Beeper’s waiting list will now be able to try the product. They will join more than 115,000 users who have already downloaded the app, which is now used daily by tens of thousands of people. The app works on Android, iPhone, iPad, ChromeOS, macOS, Windows and Linux.

The team expects to achieve feature parity across all platforms within a few months as they overhaul the iOS and desktop apps.

Eventually, they also plan to add other services to Beeper, including Google Voice, Snapchat, and Microsoft Teams. Beeper also offers a widget API allowing developers to build on top of Beeper. Additionally, since Matrix is ​​an open standard, developers will also be able to create alternative clients for Beeper.

The app will generate revenue through a premium subscription, the final price of which may be a few dollars per month, but pricing decisions have not yet been fully defined. Beeper is currently free.

Like Automattic, Beeper’s team is remotely distributed, with employees in Brazil, the UK, Germany and the US. Currently, Texts.com will continue to operate as teams begin to integrate the two messaging apps.



News Source : techcrunch.com
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